Does Benderson’s Testimony & Legal Documents Result in Serious Legal Issues?


A lawsuit which started out as seeking a settlement of a dispute concerning a development called the EEZ Project in Osprey, that Hugh Culverhouse Jr. alleged and a six member jury agreed upon by issuing a unanimous decision that awarded Culverhouse over $20 million that Randy Benderson, Henry Rodriguez and various other Sarasota County officials, including former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson and former Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley, had fraudulently conspired against him, has now expanded. Not only have the inner workings of a corrupt Sarasota County Government under Ley been exposed under oath, but also the inner workings of the Benderson Corporation are now surfacing.  (PLEASE GO TO:

By the way, the above referenced unanimous jury verdict was reversed in an outrageous decision made by presiding Judge Peter Dubensky.  Unfortunately for Benderson, Rodriguez, Patterson and Ley; that decision will be reviewed by an appellant court in Lakeland in April of 2016

For example, among other nefarious issues now being exposed in the inner workings of Benderson Development are potential serious tax issues.  This has come about through discovery of various emails, taken together with depositions of participants in the ongoing litigations, which have brought tax fraud allegations to the surface.  In addition, false statements have been made under oath by Benderson, David Baldauf (legal advisor to Benderson Corporation for 27 years) and Ed Vogler (local legal advisor to Benderson).

For example, factual information has been found in discovery to the effect that Vogler struck through Baldauf’s name and wrote in Benderson’s name on documentation concerning the EEZ Project; he then witnessed Benderson’s signature as manager.  A day later for tax purposes, Baldauf signed a ratification of the agreement signed by Benderson.  In the ratification, Baldauf states that Benderson was neither a manager, nor an agent and had no authority to enter into an agreement on behalf of VOTT A, B, C, D.  Baldauf said this agreement was kept in the files at the offices in case of an IRS audit.

When asked under whose instructions Vogler made those changes, Vogler answered,  “There is only one person who we were talking about making changes and that was Randy Benderson.”.

The reason that Benderson had Vogler make the changes,  putting himself as the manager and agent for VOTT A, B, C, D,  is that Benderson was to have a meeting with Culverhouse to discuss the EZZ Project.  Benderson had to wield  control of VOTT A, B, C, D during negotiations with Culverhouse to increase the Benderson retail footprint on the EEZ Project from 40,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet.
It could not have been Baldauf, for he admitted in sworn testimony that he had no knowledge of the EEZ Project, even though he was listed in the previously mentioned affidavit as the agent and manager of VOTT A, B, C and D.  Incidentally, Baldauf was in Buffalo at the time of the Culverhouse/Benderson meeting. After that meeting there was an email exchange between Benderson, Rodriguez, Vogler and another Benderson attorney, Alica Gayton, which gives clear evidence that a conspiracy was being planned weeks before Benderson met with Culverhouse.

This email exchange, has been referred to as the “SMOKING GUN” email in a hearing before Judge Dubensky, and reads:  “Great Job Randy, Alica and Ed.  What you got them to sign is even beyond my belief.  WOW.  We worked this out together weeks before the meeting and they (Culverhouse) were not going to get more than 75,000 SQ feet that I was sure of.  Thank you so much for adding in our language so we can get at a later date have the 661 support on intensity and additional retail  You and Randy did the heavy lifting and I’m so proud of a man that I see as my now ‘Big Brother’ not just ‘Brother’ and he is my mentor.  Rodriguez continued in the same email, “I will take care of the Tallahassee issue if staff or Palmer Ranch (Culverhouse) tries to do something.”


That meeting took place on June 23, 2012.  According to a sworn statement by James Paulmann, Benderson threatened Culverhouse to sign an amended agreement  increasing Benderson’s retail footage,  by stating he had three Sarasota County Commissioner votes in his pocket for his proposed amended agreement. (SEE ATTACHMENT NO. 1–PAULMAN’S DEPO).
What makes the changes made by Vogler on direction by Benderson significant, is that it is a serious legal problem for not only Benderson, but for Vogler and Baldauf as well.  That document, which is on file at the Sarasota County clerk’s office, totally contradicts sworn testimony by Baldauf that he is the manager of not only VOTT A, B, C, D, but also hundreds of Benderson LLC’s.  Equally significant is that Benderson, Vogler and Baldauf understand the legal ramifications of their actions.

For example, Vogler has Baldauf sign an affidavit stating the following:  “Whereas on June 23, 2010 Randall Benderson executed that certain Economic Energy Joint Cooperation Agreement (The Agreement) on behalf of VOTT entities as Manager of each and—Whereas Randall Benderson is not a Manager or Officer of any of the VOTT entities, and has no authority to bind the VOTT entities”  Again, Vogler then has Baldauf’s name “struck through” and puts Benderson’s name as agent and manager of VOTT A, B, C, D on instructions from Benderson.

Baldauf, who has been the overseer of  Benderson Development legal and financial interests since 1977, gave testimony under oath, in his deposition taken by Culverhouse attorneys, that is legally devastating to Benderson. (ATTACHMENT NO.2 –BALDAUF’S DEPO).
In his oversight of Benderson Development legal activities since 1977, Baldauf  and other in-house attorneys have been involved in hundreds of Benderson Corporation real estate deals.  Those attorneys include at least one attorney in Buffalo and one in Sarasota.  There is one title company used in Florida and another in New York.  Baldauf oversees this activity along with the Benderson Development tax department.Under sworn testimony on May 27, 2014 , while being deposed by Culverhouse attorneys, Baldauf stated that he has been designated by Randy Benderson to be the manager of not only the various VOTT properties (Villages of the Trail) involved with the EEZ Project in Osprey, and the basis for the Culverhouse lawsuit, but over hundreds of other Benderson LLC’s.Under further questioning by Culverhouse attorneys, Baldauf admitted that he is listed as manager and agent for hundreds of Benderson LLC’s, of which Benderson is in complete control  “On paper” Baldauf states he legally manages hundreds of Benderson entities and LLC’s which includes VOTT A, B, C, D.For example, when asked to whom he delegated duties, and to describe the duties which he had delegated,  Baldauf answered, “There’s a general delegation for pretty much all of our entities to Randall Benderson to act as agent of these activities.” When asked when this delegation was first made with numerous properties involved with Benderson Development projects, Baldauf answered: “The first time I did it was the late ’70s and early ’80’s.
What appears to be a clear indication of Benderson  duplicity , cooked up to avoid paying taxes to the IRS,  can be found in his own words as stated in a deposition taken by Culverhouse attorneys, and as witnessed in the following attachment.  (ATTACHMENT NO.3 NO.3—BENDERSON DEPO).

As an illustration, when deposed by Culverhouse attorneys on October 5, 2012, Benderson states he is not the manager or agent of VOTT A, B, C, D, but that he had Vogler strike through Baldauf’s name, and had his own name placed on what is called a ratification on June 24, 2012, to indicate to Sarasota County Commissioners and Culverhouse that he is the manager of VOTT A, B, C, D.  Vogler struck through Baldauf’s name, even though he knew Benderson was not the manager of VOTT, and that Baldauf was the manager.  Benderson, Vogler and Baldauf’s duplicity with Sarasota County is serious enough, but tax fraud with the IRS is more serious for the trio.

Every year Baldauf files a document with the state of Florida swearing he is the manager of VOTT A, B, C, D.  Every year a federal tax return is filed for VOTT A, B, C, D, and hundreds of other partnerships.  Every tax document signed by Baldauf as manager breaks the tax laws.  Baldauf is really not the manager, and falsely stating that he is the manager is a criminal act that could imprision Baldauf for decades.

Benderson’s reasons for not being listed as manager or agent of VOTT A, B, C, D or the other hundreds of LLC’s he controls was made quite clear in Baldauf’s sworn deposition taken by the Culverhouse attorney.  When Baldauf was asked  about the delegation of  duties turned over to Benderson—control of all those hundreds of Benderson LLC’s, he stated the following, “I would say everything.”  When asked why, if Benderson is making all of the decisions on the properties, that he is not designated manager of the properties, Baldauf answered, “tax purposes.”

It doesn’t take a Harvard law graduate or for that matter any law school graduate to understand that recent sworn testimony and affidavits, being made public in the Culverhouse lawsuit,  give clear indication that Benderson’s name does not appear in writing as the AGENT or MANAGER of his hundreds various LLC”S , is because it would prove he violated IRS TAX LAWS.

Benderson’s answers to questions in his deposition taken by Culverhouse attorney, Steven Hutton, are incredibly incriminating.  For example, Benderson admits having Vogler strike Baldauf’s name off as manager and agent of VOTT A, B, C, D, and put his name on the documentation presented to the Sarasota County Commission. Benderson lied in his deposition, as Vogler had not produced the ratification.  Benderson said the ratification makes him the agent.  In fact, the ratification says the opposite.  The ratification  signed by Baldauf states that Benderson is not the manager, nor agent; and the depositions by Benderson, Vogler and Baldauf state that Benderson is not the manager or agent.

In addition, Benderson admits that “Our family (Benderson family) has a lot of entities and LLC’s—probably over 500 and I’m responsible for all of them.” Yet, Benderson is not listed as manager or agent on any of the over 500 entities or LLC’s.
Benderson’s  sworn testimony includes other incredible revelations. For example, under questioning by Hutton, Benderson admits that his brother, Ronald Benderson is involved with ownership of VOTT A, B, C, and D. When asked if his brother, who resides in Buffalo, has any knowledge of VOTT  A, B, C,  D or the EEZ Project,  Benderson answers, “NO KNOWLEDGE.”

When asked why not, Benderson answers, “I handle all the real estate”.  Hutton then asked Benderson, “As as part owner you just didn’t feel it was necessary to tell him what was going on?”  Benderson then answers “No.” Benderson is then asked if any of the other owners of VOTT A, B, C  D have knowledge of those entities or the EEZ Project, and Benderson answers, “NONE.”  When asked why not, Benderson answers, “Because I handle all of the real estate.”

In his sworn testimony, Benderson gives clear evidence that he uses Family Limited Partnerships to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes to the IRS. For example, when asked by Hutton, “Now of what things you said it appears to me—and correct me if I’m wrong—that when you do real estate exchanges, you try to as much as possible, do 1031 (Family Limited Partnerships), is that correct?” Benderson answers “When we do sales we try to do 1031.” When asked why, Benderson answers, “Tax deferment.”
As previous articles have explained, Family Limited Partnerships are ways for parents to give children gifts at a low gift tax value. However, the law has to be followed strictly. Benderson made a mockery of the law and was open about it. He gave 100% of his interest in all real estate away, and under the tax law, he cannot thereafter manage or be the agent of the Family Limited Partnership.

An unrelated person, who is not employed or controlled by Randy Benderson has to be the manager. The Benderson family is worth billions of dollars and employs many lawyers and CPAs. Randy Benderson, Nate Benderson and the brothers know the strict rules of the tax laws in setting up a Family Limited Partnership, and they flagrantly ignore them. All that matters in their operation is to avoid and evade taxes.
Baldauf certainly raises the question that if the Bendersons over the years have been  issuing “gifts” to family members of various LLC’s and properties they essentially control, have they been avoiding paying millions of dollars in taxes, as required by U.S federal tax laws.  In theory, one could exchange into numerous investment properties over the years and pass those investments on to their children at the time of their passing. At that time, their children could realize a step-up in the cost basis of all of those investments to current fair market value, essentially eliminating the tax burden altogether.
Another issue that needs to be resolved, in statements made by Baldauf and Benderson in their depositions, is that if Nate Benderson did own the millions of dollars in property that (according to Baldauf) he controlled, were estate taxes assessed to those properties at his death?

For example, if I give you title to my car, but I keep the keys and continue driving the car every day—then I have NOT made a gift of the car and when I die.  The car is part of my estate and I owe estate tax on the value of car—including estate taxes in New York where Benderson owns 40% of their property. 

Posted in Breaking News, Regional / Local News, Regional / Local Politics

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